|Jesus voted for me! See?|
It's nice to know Jesus voted for me. He "voted" for each one of us when we were knit together in our mothers' wombs (Psalm 139). He chooses us, every moment of every day.
But this is not really a political article. I repeat: this is not a political article. I rejoice that I live in a country with free, non-violent, fair elections. But if I get one more phone call from a candidate. . . .
Like all of my posts--and like everything the Apostleship of Prayer does around the world--this article is about prayer. I love considering how to turn daily activities into prayer, so Election Day is about to get turned into prayer. (Prayerified?)
Marveling at how many political analysts there seem to be (on the news, the radio, my telephone), I clicked on over to PoliticalScienceCareer.com to see why some people choose to pursue this career. Here's what I found in the job description:
The responsibilities of an analyst begin with an historical understanding of what it takes to win an election. An analyst is aware of past problems, mistakes, and best practices. They are adept with data interpretation, and voter behavior. They are responsible for disseminating their findings to their team. They also monitor events as a campaign unfolds, advising their team on changes that take place in order to adjust campaign strategies.In the interest of not sounding judgy, let me say simply that Political Analyst is not the job for me. Listening to the hype build weeks before an election is all the politics I can handle. Dedicating my life to studying those politics? Not my thing.
But the more I look at that job description, the more I detect a deep connection between political analysis and prayer. Yes, prayer! More specifically, reflective prayer. If I squint my eyes and massage some terms, the process of political analysis and prayer appear surprisingly similar. Let's look at the points of the political analyst's job description:
- Historical understanding of electoral victory. If we change our term from electoral to eternal, we're on to something. People of faith are always studying the history of human salvation: it's called reading the Bible! But wait, there's more! We learn about eternal victory not only from reading the Word of God, but also from reflecting in our hearts, where the victor Christ himself dwells (Ephesians 3:17). Reading Scripture, probing our hearts--this is all prayer.
- Awareness of past problems, mistakes, and best practices. What is this, if not an examination of conscience? Better yet, this sounds like the Ignatian Examen, where we take time at the end of each day to pay attention to the details of our day--the ways we find God in the conversations and circumstances of our day, and the ways we overlook God's love.
- Proficiency in interpreting data and behavior. When we build a daily habit of praying the Examen, we become keen observers of our strengths as well as our weaknesses, especially chronic weaknesses that easily lead us astray. The Examen also gives us a chance to reflect on conversations we have during the day, paying attention to the verbal and nonverbal data we pick up from others. I am not a naturally observant person, so the Examen helps me return to circumstances of my day, replaying them in Super Slo-Mo so I can pick up on things I very likely missed just a few hours before.
- Responsibility for sharing findings. See Matthew 28:19-20: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." If the New Evangelization needs a tag line, "responsibility for sharing findings" is the clear choice. We are disciples, sharing our love to make more disciples.
- Ability to monitor events, advising a team and adjusting strategies accordingly. And here political analysis moves into the realm of spiritual direction. Spiritual direction helps us reflect on our progress in the spiritual life, as we pay attention to the movements of the Spirit and make changes to follow the Lord more closely.
Equipped with this extended metaphor, I now relish the thought of picking up the phone when the caller ID reads "Unavailable." Instead of being grouchy or tongue-tied, I can respond with confidence to my brothers and sisters in the political analysis field.
When they ask,
"Have you decided on your candidate for governor?"
I will hear,
"How has the Lord drawn you closer to his Heart today?"
And this reflection will encourage me to look at politicians not as objects, but as human persons created by God. We may be watching electoral victories on Election Day, but given the chance to reflect in prayer, we will come to desire more and more the eternal victory of the Christ the King.
Share your findings! Help children learn to pray with reflection. Episode #6 in our "Praying with Children" series is available here!
|Episode #6: Praying with Reflection|